Unique fitness class key to health for older couples

A healthy lifestyle is a lifelong challenge. Recognizing this fact, the University Club at Michigan State University offers Club Gold which is turning out to be a bit like a fountain of youth for three area couples who have found fitness, friendship and a healthy attitude for life.

Club Gold, geared for adults over the age of 50, doesn’t have any real requirements for participation, but does feature a chance for members to work out with trainers and complete workouts designed for seniors focusing on strength, balance, mobility and flexibility. To participate, members may be asked to provide a note from a physician.

The club meets four days a week at various times.

According to member Judy Green, 73, of Okemos, along with her husband Ron Welch, 73, the club has become an essential part of their lives.

“At this point in our lives, this club means everything to us,” Green said. “Not only do we continue to work out four times a week on fitness, but we have made so many friends through the club. “We have a monthly lunch, join one another for happy hour every Thursday, attend theater, sporting events, and take college level classes together. We never knew these people before, and now many have become our closest friends. Our lives and experiences have expanded.”

 

Green said a typical workout is always done with a trainer. “Most often we focus on specific parts of the body followed up with stretching at the end of the session. Because we are older there is a lot of focus on balance, strength, and cardio. We use weights, machines, mats, bands and an assortment of other training tools the trainer selects for our workout.”

Her husband agreed that it’s an outstanding workout for seniors.

“This club offered a great opportunity for us to learn the equipment in a structured situation,” Welch said. “My goal is to maintain my strength and mobility. This has been excellent way to accomplish that.”

Jim, 78, and Gloria, 75, Kielbaso are also part of the club. Gloria said the workouts, as well the friendships, have helped the couple stay active and healthy.

“There’s no such thing as a typical workout. Each class incorporates something different, allowing time for questions and stretching at the end,” she said.

“We love the people in the club. They are great people and always welcome others to join us. We miss them when they are not in class.”

Henry Kopek and his wife, Pat Foreman, both 76, of East Lansing, like the club because of the workouts and, of course, the friendships they’ve made.

According to Foreman, this club offers a place, within a new circle of friends, to exercise, stretch, work on balance, learn yoga and have fun. The class is a group of like-minded people, all of whom are closely related in age and physical abilities. She said she likes the fact the instructors are aware of, and adjust to, the individual needs of seniors.

“We may work on different muscle groups, on different days, to maintain strength and flexibility,” she said. “We may practice a variety of balancing techniques or work on stretching for flexibility and greater mobility. Once a week we practice yoga. My main goals are to maintain or increase my current levels of mobility, strength, flexibility and balance.”

“Some very nice friendships have developed among all the club members,” she said.

“We usually get together for a monthly lunch at The University Club throughout the year. And often other spur-of-the-moment gatherings occur offering members the chance to get together and socialize outside of the club setting,” she said.

Kopek said he has seen an improvement in his health.

“My overall medical numbers have improved,” he said. “Best of all there was noticeable improvement in flexibility, balance, strength and just feeling good. To my knowledge, there are three main elements to healthy living: fitness, social involvement and diet. Two out of the three are covered in the club.”

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PICTURED: Three area couples find friendship and health through Club Gold at the University Club at MSU. They are, (left to right, back row) Judy Green, Henry Kopek, Pat Foreman, Jim Kielbaso, Gloria Kielbaso. Sitting: Ron Welch. 

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